You’ll need to create a database, which we’ll also show you how to do
Sometimes you may want to create a letter that you will be sending to a lot of different people, but you’d like certain parts of it to be individualized for each addressee: parts such as the greeting, name, address, etc. In Word parlance, this means you should create a form letter, which is really easy to do.
Before you get started with form letters, you should make sure you have a database already setup with all the fields you would like to include. A database can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet with columns for first name, last name, address, etc.
Word can import data from Excel, Access, and text documents. If you don’t already have a database setup, you can always create it inside Word, which I’ll show you how to do.
Create Form Letters in Word
To begin, create a document that has the standard text in it like the example Christmas letter below:
Notice how it has no salutation, address, etc. because those will all be added later as fields in our form letter. The first thing you need to do is click on Select Recipients on the Mailings tab:
This is where you add the people that will be receiving the letter or import a list from a database file.
You can click on Type New List if you want to create the list inside Word itself. To import, click on Use Existing List. In this example, we’ll just type out the list.
Note: When you go to save your recipient list, Word will prompt you for a location on your hard drive to save the data file that will be created.
Once you save your recipients list, you will notice that a lot of the icons that are on the Mailings ribbon are clickable now.
To start adding fields to your form letter, click a spot in your document to indicate where you want the field to be placed and then click on Address Block.
This will bring up the Insert Address Block dialog.
Click OK to go with the default format and you should get something that looks like this:
Next, add an Enter after the Address Block to move your text down a line, then click on the Greeting Line icon:
This will bring up the Insert Greeting Line dialog.
Once again, let’s go with the default format and just click the OK button.
Next, highlight where it says <Address Block>, right-click the mouse, choose Paragraph and then check the box next to Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style.
This will make the address block hang together correctly instead of having a blank line between each part of it.
Then, click on the Preview Results icon located on the Mailings tab in the ribbon.
Instead of the address block field indicator, you should now see the actual content listed in the Word document.
When you’re done previewing, click the Preview Results icon to turn off previewing. Next, to see how to add other fields, click just past the <Address Block> in your document to make that your current position, then click on the Insert Merge Field icon.
You should get something like this:
Choose Country or Region, then click on the Insert button.
Try clicking the Preview Results icon again to see how it looks. Here is my example below:
Now that the form letter is setup correctly, you can do more advanced things like setting up rules. Rules will allow you to show some text for certain recipients and hide it for others. To get started, click on the Rules button.
You’ll see a drop-down menu with several options like Ask, Fill-in, etc.
For our example, let’s choose If…Then…Else, which will bring us to the following dialog:
Change the Field name: to Country_or_ Region, and type USA into the Compare to: field. Next, add some text to the boxes where it says Insert this text and Otherwise insert this text.
In this example if the recipient lives in the USA, they will get the text Merry Christmas inserted into their letter, while everyone else will get the message Seasons Greetings.
Here’s what it will look like once you click the OK button and then the Preview Results button.
Next, note the Preview Results section:
Here you can click on the arrow buttons (when Preview Results is turned on) to the left and right of the number to scroll through all of the letters that will be sent out. This way you can make sure that all of your letters will look right before printing or emailing.
Note: The match fields menu choice under Rules is for matching field names in a database with header names in your recipients list.
Also to make it easier to see where you’ve inserted fields into your document, use the Highlight Merge Fields button.
It’s a toggle you can turn on and off at your discretion. Finally, when you’re happy with your letter, click the Finish & Merge icon:
You should get this dropdown menu with three options.
Choose Edit Individual Documents to get Word to merge all your letters together into one big document that you can look over before printing or sending as an email.
As you can see, creating form letters with Word is no longer the chore it once was and you can create and send documents quickly and easily. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!